KRAMATORSK, Ukraine — As Ukrainian troops tried to claw back territory and stave off a blistering Russian assault along the country’s embattled eastern front, the government on Saturday sought also to repel a demand earlier in the day by President Emmanuel Macron of France that Moscow not be humiliated to improve chances of reaching a diplomatic solution.
“We must not humiliate Russia so that the day when the fighting stops we can build an exit ramp through diplomatic means,” Mr. Macron, who has sought to position himself as the world’s chief negotiator with the Kremlin, said in an interview with French newspapers. “I am convinced that it is France’s role to be a mediating power.”
Ukraine’s foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, responded with a scathing post on social media.
“Calls to avoid humiliation of Russia can only humiliate France and every other country that would call for it,” Mr. Kuleba wrote. Instead, he argued, peace and the saving of lives could best be achieved by Russia being “put in its place.”